- 21 January 2016
- Posted by: Team For Youth Association
- Category: Volunteering Stories
We have successfully completed the project “Sources of Inspirations” in cooperation with the Latvian NGO “Jaunatne par”.
Due to the economic recession in Latvia, many young disadvantaged people have been left without the guidance and the access to valuable information about the possibilities to solve their problems. “Jaunatne par” is working with different groups of disadvantaged young people – handicapped young people, young offenders, unemployed, single parents, former drug and alcohol addicts, national and sexual minorities.
They have been trying to find the EVS hosting projects to those people and they did not succeed very often, because they could not compete with the advantaged volunteers, who will promise much bigger asset to the hosting organizations. Disadvantaged young people were complaining about the society, which is not tolerant enough to someone who is different.
“Jaunatne par” asked to the handicapped people if they would like to help young gay people to fight about their rights. They said – “No! We do not like gay people!”. “Would you help Russian people (largest minority in Latvia) who have come out of jail to learn Latvian?” They said – “No! We do not like criminals!”.
“Jaunatne par” then asked young offenders if they would help to organize the pica workshop for handicapped persons. They said – “No! We feel too sad about handicapped people! It is not pleasant to see them!” Then “Jaunatne par” asked the question to all the disadvantaged groups – “How can you expect society to accept you, if you are not ready to accept other people who are different?”
Therefore, “Jaunatne par” decided to write a project which united young persons from different groups of disadvantages. Together we had selected the handicapped volunteer candidate – Aleksejs Prokofjevs and unemployed orphan from Jekabpils (which is a town of high unemployment rate) – Anna Aleksejeva.
The tasks of the volunteer were revolving around working with youngsters and children and sometimes were quite demanding. Therefore, the volunteers had the possibility to choose. These tasks included organizing language clubs for children and youngsters of the local community, teaching them basic level of their mother tongue or any other foreign language they could speak, assisting language teachers from schools and high schools in Baia Mare, preparing exercises, games or conversation topics on the subject announced by the teacher, delivering a presentation of their country, writing articles for the blog of the hosting organization, organizing seminars or workshops on different topics or skills they had and come up with, working in kindergartens, preparing activities and games focused on learning English, outdoor activities, creative activities, organizing afterschool activities for the Roma children enlisted to the Romanii Centre, organizing activities in a center for institutionalized children.
By working together and getting to know each other personally, the young people learned to be tolerant to each other. They learned that the barriers are in our minds. Aleksejs demonstrated that he is able to do the same tasks as any other healthy person and socially disadvantaged Anna proved that it is worth to trust her.
The project was brought to success only by mutual efforts of experienced sending and receiving organizations, reinforced mentor Mihaela Alina Rad and assistant Remus Flavius Pop.
The goal of the project was to break the stereotypes and bring closer the disadvantaged groups of young people. The goal was reached because when young people received the necessary assistance they overcame their problems very easily. Within one or two months they were already working together with other volunteers just as well as everybody.
Our organization was happy to help these young people. They regained self-confidence and proved they are the same as advantaged people, if they are treated equally.
The results were stunning – after the project, both of the volunteers have found a job. The poverty was the main factor of their social exclusion and now, when it is overcome, they are able to live a full and happy life.
The life of Anna has changed drastically, because in the project she found her future husband – Mykola. Now she is married and lives and works in Ukraine. We can say we change lives!
We wanted to share our experience with other organizations and encourage them to work with disabled and disadvantaged people. Therefore, we organized the dissemination activities in the middle of January 2016, right after the winter holidays. In the highschool “CD Nenitescu” in Baia Mare, in front of around 45 students aged between 16 and 18, we have shared the results and the successful story of Aleksejs and Anna and how they overcame the difficuties they were used to go through, by engaging themselves in regular activities with youngsters and children in Baia Mare. The students were visibly touched and impressed by the story, as the majority of these students face similar difficulties in their families. Many of the students in this highschool have parents living and working in other countries, to provide for the family left back in Romania. Therefore, many of these students have to cope with life by themselves, without the help and support or love of their parents. And it’s not easy for them, as the society is unable to come up with viable solutions to offer support and comfort to substitute the lack of the family and what it offers. Many of the students recognized themselves in the story of Anna and Aleksejs and found their success in EVS as an inspiration to pick themselves up and try to be more confident. To start their lives from a new perspective. We are happy to say that some of the students decided to join our regular activities in Team for Youth Association, as local volunteers, and few of them are already involved in activities where they have to offer support to disabled children or youngsters, from children with Down Syndrome, to children with Autism or other with disabilities, in local associations providing support to these groups of beneficiaries.
The project gave a lot of positive experience and we want to continue and expand the work with young people from disadvantaged groups.